Review by Brenda Hough, CBA "Bluegrass Breakdown"

Wendy Burch Steel
Open Wings
© 2012

Song list:
If I Had Wings, Your Sweet Hand, Paul and Silas, There Is A Time, Walls of Time, Happy Song Blues, Sea of Heartbreak, Jenny’s Waltz, If It Hadn’t Been For Love, Beau Fleuve, Leah’s Lullaby.

Sometimes songbirds appear on the horizon and delightfully fly into your field of vision. Wendy is a Bay Area singer and songwriter who has assembled a delightful selection of original and contemporary songs accompanied by Laurie Lewis on guitar and vocals, John Schott on electric guitar, Todd Phillips on bass, Tom Rozum on mandolin, Chad Manning on fiddle, Patrick Sauber on banjo and Richard Bradenburg on harmony vocals. [ also Nell Robinson on harmony vocals, the T Sisters (Erika, Rachel and Chloe Tietjen) on harmony vocals and Evan Robert Morgan on acoustic guitar. Ed. ]

Wendy’s vocals have a warmth and presence that filters through the song lyrics. She can put a bluesy purr into a song and her “Happy Song Blues” has an attractive bounce with bass and fiddle along for the ride. Her “If I Had Wings” has a magical guitar accompaniment that floats under her lilting vocal. Richard and Laurie add harmony vocals to Wendy’s salute to loved ones, “Your Sweet Hand,” followed by a stirring rendition of the traditional gospel song, “Paul and Silas.”

“Beau Fleuve” flows as strong as the river it was named after as Wendy recounts her personal journey through locales and lifestyles with Laurie’s fiddle and banjo weaving a melodic undercurrent. “Jonny’s Waltz” is a gentle love song affirming that the “universe changed” when a new love changes the sadness of the past. A soaring debut album from a talent that will continue to fascinate!

Wendy has also chosen to include songs from other writers and her “There Is A Time” and “Walls of Time” have a believable sense of urgency. She gives Chris Stapleton’s “If It Hadn’t Been For Love” a heartfelt delivery and the “Lord have mercy on my soul” is a cry to the heavens.

Brenda Hough
Brenda and the Reviews
California Bluegrass Association "Bluegrass Breakdown", Vol. 39 No. 5
October/November 2012
Page A-26